Thursday, December 30, 2010

Water Management and "Cause and Effect"

Leesburg District Supervisor Burk has a short and strong letter in the Loudoun Times-Mirror and on Leesburg Patch this week. In it, she briefly lays out the long-term economic case for managing our water quality in a natural manner, rather than through expensive industrial solutions.
Environmental protection and economic development are linked. The protection of water resources is itself a powerful economic engine, which will allow businesses locating in Loudoun to be assured of a clean and reliable water supply. Clean water frees up our limited funding resources, so therefore, will allow the County to spend money on other areas rather than on chemical refinement and increased infrastructure.

Storm water treatment alone is estimated to need millions of dollars in improvements to holding tanks and conveyance piping. However, Jim Gordon of Westfair, Inc. suggests in his article, "Rich in Water," that it is foolhardy to recommend spending that money since the structure sits unused most of the time. Instead, the county should be examining green solutions such as engineered wetlands as bio-filters and holding ponds and other measures which could provide open space and other benefits like cleaner air, higher property values and reduced energy usage. Some of these very solutions can be found in the water protection CPAM we currently are reviewing in the Transportation and Land Use Committee. - Supervisor Kelly Burk
Supervisor Burk has made a career out of this kind of long-term thinking an planning. Not only will bio-filters for our water help keep it cleaner, it will help the County economically by reducing the water management spending necessary in future years.

It is for reasons like this that the County has a comprehensive plan, and why I am glad Supervisor Burk is doing a great job managing to that plan.

(Crossposted from Loudoun Progress.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Progress in Northern Virginia

Did you know that in the western part of vorthern Virginia (otherwise known as VA-10, until Redistricting changes it) has seen 76,000 jobs created or preserved thanks to actions taken by President Obama and the Democratic Congress of 2009-2010?

Did you know that over 11,000 neighbors have pre-existing conditions that inhibited their ability to get health insurance before the Affordable Health Care For America Act was passed?

How about the fact that some 3,800 teachers and educators had their jobs saved by Federal financing, funding which was implemented without adding to the deficit.

These are just a few of the things accomplished by President Obama and the Democratic Congress.

Something to remember when people wonder what President Obama has done since coming into office.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Leesburg's Roads Are Incomplete

The roads network in and around Leesburg may seem confusing to many. For example, I cannot tell you the number of friends who call me when their GPS sends them up Catoctin Circle only to run into a barrier across the roadway. It is important to understand, however, that Leesburg's roads aren't confusing insomuch as they're incomplete. Battlefield Parkway, Sycolin Flyover, Crosstrail Boulevard, Kincaid Boulevard, Russell Branch Parkway, these are only a handful of the roads that are partially complete, and in that partial state lead to some confused visitors to our wonderful Town.

Our Democratic officials have made completion of this critical road network a high priority. Supervisor Burk has been instrumental in fighting for and securing funding for the completion of Battlefield Parkway and the Sycolin Flyover throughout her career on both Council and the Board of Supervisors. Sen. Herring has been working diligently to find creative solutions in the face of Assembly inaction, witness his Rt. 7 Task Force, which has brought together a wide variety of stakeholders to set transportation priorities independent of political machinations. On Council, Dave Butler and Marty Martinez have helped to lead the fight for funding major road improvements (Sycolin Road) when the state abandoned their responsibilities to get local roads done.

In fact, every since I moved to Leesburg in 2006, the state has been failing in its transportation responsibilities (roads funding, transportation safety, Metro funding) and the Town of Leesburg, led by Democrats on the Council, has been stepping in to pick up the slack even while fighting ever harder for Richmond to do its job. That is real leadership on the most critical issue facing our Town. And it has been consistent for five years and across a half-dozen elected officials in a series of offices. That is what commitment to solving problems looks like. That is what governing, not complaining and dodging responsibility looks like.

Democrats simply get to work, and get things done. Sure, right now Leesburg's roads are incomplete, but thanks to Sen. Herring, Supervisor Burk, Councilman Butler, Councilman Martinez, (and Mayor Umstattd!), they will get done, in spite of the procedural hurdles and roadblocks others may put in place.

(With a tip-o-the-hat to Leesburg Patch.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sen. Herring's Supports Those Who Choose To Serve

Sen. Herring has always stood up for everyone in his District, no matter what. This week is no different. When a fellow member of the Assembly tries to legislate hate while at the same time harming our military readiness, our Senator stands up to the crazy, again.


Leesburg, VA – Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun and Fairfax) today issued the following statement with regard to Delegate Bob Marshall’s (R-Prince William and Loudoun) effort to prohibit open service in Virginia’s National Guard:

“The era of discrimination in our Armed Forces has come to an end, and it is unfortunate that Delegate Marshall continues to try to prevent patriotic Virginians from serving their country and their commonwealth.”

“The citizens of Loudoun County and all Virginia deserve better from their representatives. It is time for Delegate Marshall, and those who would support discrimination in our National Guard, to move on and focus instead on other difficult challenges facing our commonwealth.”

Senator Herring is the co-Chairman of the Virginia General Assembly’s National Guard Caucus.

Leesburg Income Changes

The New York Times has an awesome feature that provides a wealth of mapped census data on every tract in the U.S. You can slice and dice the maps by race, income, housing and education, just to name a few. When you do so, you learn a lot about where we live.

Like, for example, for what I'll call "Greater Leesburg" the side of Rt 15 you live on matters quite a lot. If you live West of Rt. 15, your neighborhood's average income probably went up since 2000. East of Rt. 15, it probably went down.

Leesburg Incomes Census 2010

Blue sectors are areas where incomes declined, orange sectors are areas where incomes increased.

And then compare that with the median income in 2010 map.

Leesburg Median Income 2010

Deep green simply designates median household incomes over $100,000. In the case of Leesburg, the two light green sectors have median incomes of $73,431 (NE Leesburg) and $82,083 (SE Leesburg), respectively. All Leesburg sectors west of Rt. 15 have median incomes over $113,000.

Something to think about when people are crying socialism and fascism over a local tax bill that might be $100 higher next year. I rather doubt it's the people in those blue / lighter green sectors - the ones who had lower median incomes, which then declined over the past 10 years - doing the screaming.

(With a tip-o-the-hat to OpenLeft.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Interlude: Five Things is a comedy site. But this is something that should run on the front page of a "real" news site.

Five Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam.
Yes, there are Middle Eastern countries where the veils are required by law (namely Iran and Saudi Arabia) and combined those countries have less than 5 percent of the world's Muslims. There are actually more Muslim countries that outright ban the wearing of the veils than there are that require them. They can do that because wearing a veil is not required in Islam but is more of a custom, depending on where you live and who's in charge.
Go. Read.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Is A Legacy?

What say we not give up on real healthcare for all, as in a public option. It seems to me that would be the best legacy for Elizabeth Edwards.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kelly Burk for Supervisor

Supervisor Burk is running for re-election, asking the citizens of Leesburg to give her four more years to fight for development done right, improved transportation and a healthy environment for everyone.
When asked about what she considers to be her biggest success on the board, Burk, a Democrat, points to the relationship that exists between the Leesburg Town Council and the Board of Supervisors. While she calls her job of bringing district issues to the attention of the full board “challenging,” Burk says that she has been successful in helping them understand the town issues.

“That didn’t develop by accident,” says Burk, who served on the town council before her election to the board.
Burk is also “very proud of the baseball stadium,” pointing out the huge environmental concessions the board was able to negotiate with the developer — concessions that Burk says should be the model for future projects.

When asked about the biggest misstep made by the current board, Burk pointed to last summers’ approval of the Kincora housing project adjacent to the ballpark.

Having addressed the effects of prior development in school construction and transportation funding requests, Burk worries about the effect of “building houses before they put the infrastructure in.” - Loudoun Times-Mirror
Supervisor Burk will be officially announcing her re-election campaign on Saturday at the Loudoun Government center at 11:30am. Incidentally, the County is hosting an information session on Redistricting at 10am that morning, so people could attend both the information session and Supervisor Burk's announcement.

Supervisor Burk has been a tireless advocate for the Town, its people and its business on the Board of Supervisors. She has gamely led the most challenging committee of the Board, the Transportation and Land Use Committee, and not shied away from difficult decisions or votes. The Baseball stadium negotiations are the perfect example of Supervisor Burk's productive, effective, style, which values results over posturing and progress over obstruction.

Supervisor Burk also has the distinction of being the only member of the Board of Supervisors to have a full-time job throughout her tenure in office. That job, as a teacher in the Loudoun County Public Schools, gives her a special insight into our county's future, once that is critically necessary for the kind of long-term planning our County so needs in this time of reduced revenues and budget challenges.

Supervisor Burk deserves re-election, she has done all that has been asked of her, and more, and been champion for Leesburg.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dave Butler for Delegate

Great news from Leesburg, our very own Councilmember Dave Butler will be running for the House of Delegates!
Although the lack of transportation solutions was the primary driver for his decision to run for a House of Delegates seat, Butler also cited his desire to give local governments more autonomy, particularly related to environmental issues, as another key issue for him.

"We just don't have the ability to require the same level of environmental regulations that are I think needed now," he said.

Butler also points to the recent erection of many Dominion Virginia Power monopoles throughout the county, a point of consternation for many residents who said the poles added to visual blight. He said the process of deciding the route for the power lines and the resulting timeline of events was "very heavily weighted to Dominion Virginia Power" and "not friendly to residents."

Butler said he believes he can serve as a "consensus builder" to work across party lines to help solve the problems that plague Leesburg and Loudoun County to improve residents' quality of life. - Leesburg Today
I've worked with Dave a lot over the past few years, and he's been an amazing member of Council. He's tireless, dedicated and always willing to talk to and work with anyone who has something to contribute. He is truly a person who can build consensus from democratic principles. His work on some of the most challenging issues facing the Town over the past five years is proof of that.

Dave is also a proven vote-getter. He received more votes for Council than anyone else when he ran in 2008, and his voters spanned geographic and ideological lines. He has the skills and passion necessary to challenge Joe May, should that be the District he runs in as seems likely.

Go Dave!

About Those Power Lines

Funny thing about those power transmission lines. It turns out that one of the partners in that little endeavor was charging ratepayers for lobbying, and that's a big no-no. This is from an email I received.
An investigation by two West Virginia citizens has uncovered approximately $3 million that has been wrongly passed on to ratepayers footing the bill for the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline's (PATH) high-voltage line project. The 275 mile transmission line would carry coal power from West Virginia up through Virginia and Maryland.

Keryn Newman of Shepherdstown and Alison Haverty of Chloe, filed a Preliminary Challenge to PATH's Formula Rate showing that the company improperly charged lobbying expenses, work of its propaganda arm (PATH Education and Awareness Team), membership dues for groups like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), and over half a million on "reliable power coalitions" in each of the three states, to ratepayers under the guise of construction and development costs. Newman and Haverty are both customers of Allegheny Energy, who has partnered with AEP on PATH.

"The challenge to PATH's formula rate reinforces what the Sierra Club has been saying for years," said Jim Kotcon, Chair of the Energy Committee for the West Virginia Chapter. "Ratepayers should not have to pay for PATH's lobbying and advertising campaigns because the project simply is not needed."
Details of the legal challenge are available.

The PATH line is currently under consideration by the SCC here in Virginia. Leesburg's own Joe May has been an instrumental supporter of various power line projects and the power industry in general.

It would be interesting for someone, or some newspaper, to do a similar investigation of Dominion Power's rates and expenditures.